I love sharing stories about inspiring donor stewardship. Over the coming weeks I’ll share more examples about what happened after making a contribution.

Good donor stewardship helps build relationshipsIt was November 15, 2018, Give to the Max (#GTMD), day here in Minnesota. I was attending a board meeting for the tiny but mighty team at Senior Community Services.

We were planning to discuss the seven ways board members can support fundraising. . . and not have to ask for a gift. The plan was to customize the list for the people around the table and have them agree to specific tasks.

We discussed the first way, make your own contribution to the organization.

Then, I challenged the group. I said I’d match any gift made in the next 20 minutes before I left.

My expectations were low. I figured one or two board members — those who had not yet made a contribution during the 24-hour giving day –would give due to my challenge.

How wrong I was! Every board member and staff in attendance immediately got on their phones and made contributions totaling more than $1200! A bit larger contribution than I was intending, but hey, it was a fun challenge.

The board listened attentively to the next six ways they could support fund development. We had a short Q & A and then I left.

It was dark and cold that evening in November. I hurried to my car and noticed I had a voicemail message pop in. I was curious because the few lines on the voice to text showed someone saying thank you.

To my surprise, the message was from the board members at Senior Community Services. One-by-one they had passed the phone around the table to thank me with humor and heart-felt gratitude. Their 1:06 message made me laugh out loud and feel great.

Their message clearly conveyed that, together, we had just made it possible for four aging elderly people in my community to receive their free services.

Unbeknownst to them, one of those aging elderly who had recently benefited from their services was my 82 year-old Dad.

It was me who was grateful for the opportunity to give back.


I believe donor stewardship is what happens in the relationship-building activity and the communication process after a gift has been received.

Stewardship isn’t just about having coffee together once a year. It includes:

• Managing the gift as donors intend.

• Updating your donors on the progress and impact of their gift.

• Easing donors through the next cultivation process by keeping them involved and informed.

• Causing donors to feel so good they want to give again.

Stewardship is about meeting your donor’s expectations and gift intentions to create a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship.


Learn more about donor stewardship activities in the paperback book: Nine Steps to a Successful Fundraising Campaign.

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